Assam Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal was at the received end of the ire of the Supreme Court, which is monitoring the updating of the National Register of Citizes (NRC) for saying the draft NRC will be published by December 31.
Justices Ranjan Gogoi and R F Nariman said when it was monitoring the process of publication of the draft NRC by an apex court appointed committee, no agency or authority can make a statement like this.
The NRC is meant to identify original residents of Assam to check illegal migration.
It was on December 18, 2014 that the Supreme Court cleared the decks for updating the National Register of Citizens (NRC) by then ordering completion of the process by the end of January 2016. The deadline was later extended to March 31, 2019.The apex court had said after giving the judgement that on and from the date of this judgement the specific time schedules should govern the work of update of the NRC in Assam, so that the entire updated NRC is published by the end of January 2016.
Preparatory work such as selection of vendor system (system integrator), development by system integrator, appointment of staff and training etc., has already been directed to be completed by the end of January 2015 by an order dated November 27 of the court.The Supreme Court had given 11 months for completion of the entire exercise.The remaining work of updating the NRC will now conform to a time schedule which will be strictly adhered to.“We don't appreciate any other authority intervening in the matter of preparation and publication of the draft NRC when this court has been monitoring the process”, the bench said.
Though the deadline for the publication of draft NRC was said to be March 31, 2019, the Chief Minister had stated that this would be done on or before December 2017.
“Last time you had told us that you will do it by March 2018. It is good that you are doing it. But we have an on- record statement of Chief Minister of Assam that the draft NRC will be published in December 2017. Let him supervise then. We will wash off our hands. When the Supreme Court is monitoring it, we don't see any other agency or authority to say that we will do it like this”, the bench said.
It also said that the apex court has already spend its energy, time for almost two years and it is not fair to the court. The apex court had earlier asked for preparation of NRC to keep a check on illegal migration from Bangladesh. The apex court was hearing a matter relating to fencing of Indo-Bangla border.